Hardik Patel pressed his Patel quota agitation on Monday night by renaming his controversial ‘reverse Dandi Yatra’ as ‘Ekta Yatra’. He also met Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel in the state capital and demanded suspension of the cops who used force during the August 25 rally and release of those arrested.
After the first face-to-face between the two Patels, the government said the community leaders will have to approach the state OBC Commission over the demand of reservations under the OBC quota. Government spokesperson Nitin Patel also claimed that Patel leaders agreed to approach the Commission.
The meeting of the Patel leaders, including Hardik Patel and Lalji Patel, with the CM and senior ministers went on for over three hours at the CM’s Gandhinagar residence.
“The meeting cannot be said to be a success or a failure as the state government has sought time from us for our demands regarding action for police atrocities on our community members, and we have told them that our agitation will continue till they take effective steps,” Hardik Patel said while emerging from the meeting.
“We have decided to rename our ‘reverse Dandi Yatra’ as ‘Ekta Yatra’ and it will start from September 19. We will also organise public meetings in five big cities of the state,” he said.
He said he had put forth some demands and the state government has been given 10 days to take decisions on the issues raised by us during the meeting.
“Our main demands include suspension of police officers who were involved in atrocities on community members at GMDC ground on August 25 and registration of murder cases against police inspectors and sub-inspectors in whose areas Patel youths were killed following the violence,” he said.
“We have also demanded that all those arrested for the violence (after August 25 rally and in its aftermath) should be released and no further arrests should take place. We have also asked the state government to offer free treatment to all those who were injured during the violence,” Patel said.
“The government sought some time saying they have to examine what can be done as most cases are in courts now,” Hardik said.
When asked if the reservation issue was discussed, Hardik said it came up, but Patel leaders told the government that it first needed to deal with the issue of police excesses.
The Gujarat government said it had told the Patel leaders that they must follow “set procedure” to pursue their demand of reservations.
“The meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere. Earlier they said the meeting should be held with their 144 representatives. But we convinced them that a frank discussion cannot take place in the presence of so many people. Then 15 of their members came,” State Health Minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel said.
“We have listened to all their demands and said another meeting will be called at an appropriate time.
“Regarding the reservation, we told them that they have to approach the state OBC commission as per the set procedure. The commission will carry out survey of community members and then only it can recommend inclusion. They have agreed to approach the commission,” Nitin Patel said.
“They have also assured us that they will tone down the agitation as the negotiation process has started,” Patel said.
The Patel community is agitating for the last two months for reservations in government jobs and educational institutes under the OBC quota. The agitation turned violent after the August 25 rally in Ahmedabad, claiming ten lives in the state.
Earlier in the day Hardik Patel visited former CM Keshubhai Patel. “We sought blessings from Keshubhai Patel for the agitation. He said he will support it if it is conducted in a non-violent way. We assured him that it will be non-violent,” Hardik said after meeting the veteran BJP leader.